Michael Phillips murder trial: Mother tells of last time she spoke to her son

A jury in the trial of seven men accused of murdering Hartlepool man Michael Phillips have heard of the last time his mother spoke to him.

Friday, 31st January 2020, 6:00 am

Mr Phillips, 39, was pronounced dead at a house in Rydal Street, Hartlepool, on the night of Monday, June 10, following an attack which left him with more than 50 injuries.

Seven men deny his murder and are standing trial at Teesside Crown Court.

They are Lee Darby, 32, of Ridley Court; Neil Elliott, 44, of Briarfield Close; Gary Jackson, 31, of The Darlings in Hart Village; John Musgrave, 54, of Wordsworth Avenue; Sean Musgrave, 30, also of Wordsworth Avenue; Anthony Small, 40, of Rydal Street, and Craig Thorpe, 36, of Young Street.

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Seven men accused of murdering Hartlepool man Michael Phillips are on trial at Teesside Crown Court.

The case centres on events following the theft of Elliott’s daughter’s car.

The statement dated Monday, August 5, 2019, heard about Michael’s early history, how he was born in Hartlepool and was "very loved" and a "good kid".

His mother said that as a teenager, Michael was never in any trouble with the police and went on to college to learn about car mechanics.

Police in Rydal Street, Hartlepool, following the death of Michael Phillips in June 2019.

In the statement read out in court, Margaret Phillips said: "When he stopped working I saw a change in him.

"He was up and down and started losing weight."

The court heard how Mr Phillips' former partner and her family wouldn't let him see his child.

Margaret Phillips says in her statement that her son began to tell "white lies" and she started to notice things going missing in the house.

This included stealing money from his mother.

The statement from her said: "When I realised that something was wrong I confronted Michael and he admitted taking drugs.

"He was losing weight, was pale and he would wear multiple layers of clothing to hide himself."

The court has also heard from the statement that at some point in his 20s, Michael started taking heroin. He then moved to Luton where he lived for five years.

Mr Phillips' mother said her son "did well in Luton". He had put on weight and had a full time job, but when he returned to Hartlepool he "got back on drugs" and was getting into trouble with the police.

Michael Phillips was in court numerous times for shoplifting, the statement said.

His mum said: "He was an opportunist but he was not violent."

The statement said Mr Phillips would only come to his mother's house if he wanted food.

She said: "On one occasion I was home when Michael came to see me. Michael began asking me for money."

The court heard how his mother had been on a laptop at the time and Mr Phillips had grabbed it off her and stood on it. He was then asked to leave.

The court heard how he moved to Rydal Street in Hartlepool and his mum would bring him food and he would ask her for money and she "could tell that he was on drugs."

Jurors have heard how Michael Phillips was on a methadone programme until his death, and was taking a high dosage.

In 2019, Mr Phillips was described as being in "pretty good health".

Describing the last time she saw her son, Margaret Phillips said that on Saturday, June 8 last year, Mr Phillips had contacted his mother complaining of stomach pains and vomiting.

She had taken him to see a doctor and he was given a prescription of codeine to settle his stomach and she then took him to the chemist to get medication.

Margaret Phillips said Michael then rang her the following day and said he was loads better.

That was the last time she spoke to her son.

The case will continue at 10am on January 31.